A specific type of protein might precipitate the onset of infertility in women stricken with endometriosis. Studies have found a link with the protein HDAC3 to an increased risk of fertility problems in those afflicted.
The Impact of Endometriosis
This potentially serious health malady occurs when the endometrium (tissue that lines a woman’s uterus) experiences an abnormal growth outside that organ. This unusual growth can occur (and often does) in regions of the reproductive tract, such as the ovaries and fallopian tubes. In uncommon instances, atypical tissue might spread to areas outside the reproductive system.
During a normal menstrual cycle, excess endometrial tissue within the uterus is broken down and expelled. However, abnormal tissue growing outside the uterus thickens and can cause significant damage and scarring to other systemic structures.
In addition to organ damage, the ailment can precipitate a host of physical manifestations such as increased or heavier occurrences of menstrual bleeding, pain in the genital or pelvic region that may increase in intensity during intercourse, the onset of a menstrual period when urinating or defecating and gastrointestinal issues. When the condition impacts the ovaries, stricken women might experience the occurrence of ovarian cysts.
Severe presentations of the illness or leaving the illness untreated could ultimately lead to infertility. The resulting damage seen in the reproductive tract could significantly threaten the efficacy of the conception process. Researchers estimate that anywhere from a third to as many as 50 percent of impacted women experience some degree of fertility struggles.
The Link Between HDAC3 and Infertility
A team of researchers has concluded that women diagnosed with endometriosis who also lack this protein, which is scientifically classified as histone deacetylase three (HDAC3), might be at a greater risk of infertility.
Scientists representing the Grand Rapids campus of Michigan State University set out to determine if a correlation existed in other animals. They engineered decreased concentrations of the protein in laboratory mice. Their findings illustrated that those subjects with adequate quantities of HDAC3 could conceive normally, while those that lacked the chemical experienced significant fertility struggles.
These medical professionals also discovered that subjects with diminished levels of HDAC3 possessed increased amounts of collagen, which can precipitate the onset and exacerbate the manifestations of endometriosis.
The research team’s leader said these findings might eventually lead to new treatment options for the ailment.
While these findings are promising, there are certain steps that women might be able to employ right away that might either prevent endometrial abnormalities or ease associated symptoms when they occur.
Prevention might not always be possible. That said, women might reduce their risk by practicing the following measures:
- Exercising – Engaging in consistent physical activity could decrease body fat. Healthcare professionals claim that fat can contribute to an increase in systemic concentrations of estrogen. While estrogen is a vital reproductive and sexual hormone, excessive quantities are believed to stimulate the occurrence of endometrial disorders.
- Limiting Consumption of Alcoholic and Caffeinated Beverages – An exorbitant intake of alcoholic and caffeinated beverages could contribute to increased internal levels of estrogen.
- Receiving Regular Medical Evaluations– A family history of the condition, as well as various underlying medical conditions, may precipitate endometrial ailments. Identifying and remedying the underlying issues as soon as possible could prevent further complications like infertility.
- Using Birth Control Preparations– These drugs are designed to reduce systemic quantities of estrogen. However, such substances might precipitate a host of other potential complications. Usage of these drugs for preventive purposes should only be employed in the most severe presentations of illness.
The condition is not curable. Fortunately, however, abnormal endometrial growth can be treated. Specific remedial options will depend upon the condition’s severity, the patient’s general health and the exact region where the anomaly is occurring. Treatment plans might include the following:
- Pain Medications– In instances where the condition is mild to moderate, a doctor might prescribe medications geared toward alleviating the associated discomfort.
- Hormone Therapy– The administration of specific birth-control drugs or hormones that keep estrogen production and systemic concentration at bay might prove effective in curtailing endometrial growth.
- Surgical Intervention – In situations where the reproductive system is severely scarred, surgery might be necessary. Common types of procedures include hysterectomies, which involve the removal of the ovaries.